National Pride Runs Deep At International Crown

OWINGS MILLS, MARYLAND | It wasn’t the Ryder Cup. There were no deafening roars; no swelling masses; no off-key singalongs or nitwits running around in full-body spandex suits. Nobody dressed up as Uncle Sam and there wasn’t a single “Get in the hole,” yelled immediately after contact.
From a crowd standpoint it wasn’t even a Solheim Cup where the smaller but still excitable galleries give off the air of a Women’s World Cup final. Fans at the inaugural International Crown were healthy, respectful and appropriate, bigger in number than you might expect for a first-year event but smaller than you’d hoped for in a tournament that was supposed to determine the top nation in women’s golf.
The grandstands at the first tee weren’t quite full on Thursday morning but it didn’t matter. Even if nobody had been there but LPGA staff, a few journalists and the hound dog that lives somewhere left of Caves Valley Golf Club’s first green, the players would have still been too nervous to breathe. Representing your country will do that.
“On the first tee my emotions were still flooding,” said Spain’s Belén Mozo, the only member of the Spanish team never to have played in the Solheim Cup. “You can see on the tee box, I didn’t hit a good shot.”
She wasn’t the only one. The LPGA didn’t orchestrate a traditional opening ceremony. There were no bands or speeches or processionals. A family-style gala dinner where sponsors ate crab cakes and garlic mashed potatoes with the players was as close to an official kickoff as they got. But officials more than made up for the lack of formality.
Prior to each match on Thursday morning, the teams were introduced along with representatives from their nations’ embassies: a minister or deputy of this or that. Then, everyone stood as the respective national anthems blared over a sound system that had been playing Pharrell William’s ubiquitous song Happy just seconds earlier. Tears spilled before the first bars of each anthem could fill the crisp Maryland air.


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